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Edinburgh Office Space Guide

[Last updated May 2024]

A guide to serviced offices and office space for rent in Edinburgh as well as general information that may be useful if you are thinking of renting office space in the city.

For further offices information or to search office space for rent in Edinburgh just click. Or contact us for any other office space query.

Overview

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, it is the second-largest city in Scotland and the seventh-most populous in the UK. metro area population of Edinburgh in 2023 was 554,000, a 1.09% increase from 2022.

Edinburgh is the seat of the Scottish Parliament.

Located in the southeast of Scotland, Edinburgh lies on the east coast of the Central Belt, along the Firth of Forth.

The Old Town and New Town districts of Edinburgh were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1995. There are over 4,500 listed buildings within the city. In May 2010 it had a total of 40 conservation areas covering 23% of the building stock and 23% of the population, the highest such ratios of any major city in the UK.

cityscape of Edinburgh

Edinburgh is renowned for the annual Edinburgh Festival, a collection of official and independent festivals held annually over about four weeks from early August. The number of visitors attracted to Edinburgh for the Festival is approximately equal to the actual population of the city. The most famous of these events are the Edinburgh Fringe which is the largest performing arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Other events include the Hogmanay street party held on 31st December, Burns Night held on 25th January, St. Andrew’s Day on 30th November, and the Beltane Fire Festival held on 30th April.

In a 2009 YouGov poll, Edinburgh was voted the “most desirable city in which to live in the UK”.

Economy

According to Edinburgh Inspiring Capital; Edinburgh has the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita of any UK city outside London and is predicted to continue outperforming most of the UK with a growth of 3.3% a year until 2010.

The City of Edinburgh Council advises that more FTSE 100 companies are based in the city than in any other UK city outside of London. Standard Life, Cairn Energy, John Menzies and RMJM are examples of businesses founded and headquartered in Edinburgh that have gone on to achieve success on an international scale. Global brands such as Microsoft, IBM, Fujitsu, Hilton and JPMorgan Chase have gained footholds in Scotland through investing in the city region.

Edinburgh is the most competitive large city in the UK outside of London, according to the 2023 Global Financial Centres Index, which ranks it as 27th in the world, ahead of cities such as Stockholm, Madrid and Dublin, to name a few.

The economy of Edinburgh is largely based on the services sector — around banking, financial services, higher education, and tourism.

Banking has been a part of the economic life of Edinburgh for over 300 years, with the establishment of the Bank of Scotland in 1695 – now part of the Lloyds Banking Group. Today, together with the financial services industry, with particular strengths in insurance and investment underpinned by the presence of Edinburgh-based firms such as Scottish Widows and Standard Life, Edinburgh is the UK’s second financial centre after London and Europe’s fourth by equity assets. In world terms, it ranks ahead of Dubai, Amsterdam and Washington in the Global Financial Centres Index.

Tourism remains an important economic mainstay in the city. As a World Heritage Site, tourists come to visit such historical sites as Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Georgian New Town. This is amplified in August of each year with the presence of the Edinburgh Festivals, which generate in excess of £100m for the local economy.

Being the centre of Scotland’s government, as well as its legal system, the public sector plays a central role in the economy of Edinburgh with many departments of the Scottish Government located in the city. Other major employers include NHS Scotland and local government administration.

Office Space to Rent in Edinburgh

According to the Drivers Jonas Office Trends UK Key Cities Report of 2009, prime rents for leasehold offices rose 2% during 2008, ending the year at £29.00 per square foot.

2008 saw few large occupier transactions with just two deals of more than 20,000 sq ft completing. Despite this, take-up totalled 650,000 sq ft, just below the 10-year average. This coupled with limited development during the year resulted in availability levels falling.

Thus proving Edinburgh’s resilience during adverse macroeconomic conditions.

Example of flexible workspace in Edinburgh

Demand was predominantly driven by professional and legal occupiers during 2008, as it was in 2022.

In Q1 of 2022, 26 office deals were completed totalling 95,500 square feet. The largest of these deals were the acquisitions of 16,000 square feet and 15,000 square feet by Shoosmiths and Dentons, respectively, at Haymarket Square.

In Q2, 50,834 square feet of office space was transacted over 25 deals. The largest letting was Dukosi taking 12,066 square feet at 1-7 Exchange Crescent.

In Q3 of 2022, office space take-up was 121,236 square feet. The largest of the 33 deals that quarter was the leasing of 21,446 square feet at Capital Square by Anderson Strathern LLP.

In Q4, 239,716 square feet of office letting deals were completed. The largest of which was Blackrocks acquisition of 139,172 square feet of space at 20 Brandon Street.

A total of 507,286 square feet of office space was acquired in Edinburgh in 2022. 

The most active sectors in 2022 were the Insurance and Financial Services sectors – between them they accounted for 31% of total take-up.

Prime office rents in Edinburgh in 2023 stand at £38 per square foot, however, this was anticipated to increase as there were various deals under offer in the city at around £42 per square foot.

In Q1 2024, it was announced that CBRE IM had secured its first tenant at 30 Semple Street with a pre-let deal with independent pensions and investment advisory firm Hymans Robertson who have committed to lease the 5th and 6th floors totalling 14,700 square feet of office space together with roof-top terraces.

30 Semple Street is described as Edinburgh’s newest and one of the city’s greenest office developments aiming to be Edinburgh’s first BREEAM ‘Outstanding’ office building with a design-reviewed NABERS 5* target rating and a platinum AirScore.

Qualities that align with B-Corp Certified Hymans Robertson’s high ESG standards. 

The 57,000-square-foot 30 Semple Street is due to complete in September 2024. 

 

There are 26 flex space providers in Edinburgh that offer a wide range of flexible office and workspace solutions including fully-serviced private offices, managed office spaces and coworking memberships for corporates and individuals.

These include national and international providers such as Landmark, Regus, Spaces and WeWork, and Edinburgh-focused operators such as 12 Queen Street and EH20 Business Centre. Profiles of all Edinburgh providers highlighting the solutions they provide can be found in this directory.

Transport

Edinburgh Airport is Scotland’s busiest airport and principal international gateway to the capital and handled just over 9 million passengers in 2009.

Image of of Edinburgh Airport

As a major hub on the East Coast Main Line, Edinburgh Waverley is the primary railway station serving the city. With more than 14 million passengers per year, the station is the second busiest in Scotland behind Glasgow Central. Waverley serves as the terminus for trains arriving from London King’s Cross and is the departure point for many rail services within Scotland operated by First ScotRail.

Lothian Buses operate the majority of city bus services within the City and to surrounding suburbs, with the majority of routes running via Princes Street. Services further afield operate from the Edinburgh Bus Station off St. Andrew Square.

In order to tackle traffic congestion, Edinburgh is now served by six park-and-ride sites on the fringe of the city at Sheriffhall, Ingliston, Riccarton, Inverkeithing, Newcraighall, and Straiton.

Travel time between London and Edinburgh is approximately 4 hrs 20 minutes by train and 1 hr 20 minutes by plane.

Landmarks and Tourism

Culturally, Edinburgh is best known for the Edinburgh Festival, although this is actually a series of separate events, which run from the end of July until early September each year.

Edinburgh is home to Scotland’s five National Galleries as well as many smaller galleries.

Edinburgh has two professional football clubs, Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian, known locally as Hearts and Hibs. Hearts play at Tynecastle Stadium in Gorgie, and Hibs play at Easter Road Stadium.

The Scotland national rugby union team plays at Murrayfield Stadium, which is owned by the Scottish Rugby Union and is also used as a venue for other events, including music concerts.

Edinburgh’s professional rugby team, Edinburgh Rugby, play in the Celtic Magners League at Murrayfield. It is the largest capacity stadium in Scotland.

Edinburgh and the Lothians are one of Scotland’s best-golfing regions. The mix of historical (Musselburgh Links is the oldest continuously playing golf course in the world) and modern courses (such as the specially designed courses at Craigielaw) makes the area particularly popular with golfers of all handicaps.

Edinburgh enjoys a large number of pubs, clubs and restaurants. The traditional areas are the Grassmarket, Lothian Road and surrounding streets, Rose Street and its surrounds and the Bridges. Stockbridge and the waterfront at Leith are also increasingly popular areas with a range of pubs, clubs and restaurants.

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